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NHL Centennial

Centennial memory: Brian Boucher's shutout streak

Retired goalie recalls record-setting run with Coyotes set 13 years ago Monday

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Thirteen years have passed, but Brian Boucher remembers everything about his record-breaking shutout streak like it happened yesterday.

He remembers the second his historic shutout streak started, each team he blanked during the run as the goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes, to the standing ovations, to the records he set, to the bad break that finally snapped him back into reality.

"It started at Nashville," Boucher said. "I gave up a goal in the last few seconds of the second period. It could have been longer if I didn't give up that darn goal late in the second."

Boucher, who now works as a broadcaster for NBC, holds the modern-day NHL records for most consecutive shutouts with five and the longest shutout streak at 332:01. Each record previously belonged to Gary Durnan, who had four consecutive shutouts and a shutout streak of 309:21 in 1949 while playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

Monday marks the anniversary of when Boucher broke the records in a 21-save effort against at the Minnesota Wild.

The shutout streak ended two days later, when at 6:16 of the first period he allowed a deflected goal to forward Randy Robitaille of the Atlanta Thrashers.

The NHL recognizes its modern era as beginning with the 1943-44 season, when the center red line was introduced, according to the Official Guide & Record Book. Alec Connell, playing for the Ottawa Senators in the 1927-28 season, holds the all-time records for consecutive shutouts (six) and shutout streak (460:49).

Roberto Luongo has come the closest to Boucher's modern-day records. He had three consecutive shutouts and a shutout streak that lasted 242:36 playing for the Vancouver Canucks in the 2008-09 season. San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones had a shutout streak of 234:33 last season. That featured two shutouts.

"I get a chuckle every time someone gets two or three shutouts because people will text me or I'll get a tweet; they'll get me all fired up," Boucher said. "I'm not going to lie to you, I like having [the records]."

Boucher's shutout streak began Dec. 22, 2003 after he allowed a goal to forward Scott Walker at 19:15 of the second period of the game against Nashville, an eventual 3-3 tie when Boucher did not allow a goal during the final 25:45 of play.

Boucher got his first shutout with a 21-save performance at home against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 31. His second came two nights later, when he made 35 saves at the Dallas Stars.

"You have to understand I was relegated to third string that season for over a month up until that point," Boucher said. "Zac Bierk and Sean Burke were the goalies. Zac ended up getting hurt. It was a tough year up until that point. But after that second shutout I remember I started to say to myself, 'Boy I feel really good about my game right now.' You don't think that it's going to take you to five games, but you start to really see the puck and get into a groove."

A 26-save shutout at the Carolina Hurricanes was next. He tied Durnan's consecutive shutouts record with his 27-save effort against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 7. His streak was now at 265:45.

"Now that it's been mentioned the guys are starting to tighten up too because they're aware of the record and they really want to get it for me," Boucher said. "They were a great group of guys. We weren't the greatest team that year, but for that stretch of time we were a group that pulled together and found something to play for. Guys stayed out of the box, blocked shots, played desperate. Guys realized we've come this far, there's no sense in blowing it now."

The shutout streak minutes record was broken in the third period against the Wild.

"The guys knew the exact time when I got the record and they started to bang their sticks on the bench, but the play was going on," said Boucher, who finished with 21 saves. "When the play stopped the whole building in Minnesota gave me a standing ovation."

Soon enough Boucher broke the consecutive shutouts record. He got the first star of the game and the home crowd gave the road goalie a standing ovation.

"That's pretty cool on the road to get that," Boucher said. "You have to catch some breaks and I caught quite a few, like pucks that hit posts or maybe shots that you didn't see that end up going wide. Goalies know what I'm talking about because these things happen all the time."

Ironically, Boucher's shutout streak ended with a bad break two nights later.

"[Robitaille] kind of came down the flank on my left side at the circle," Boucher said. "He shot it high blocker and it was going about a foot or two wide. [Phoenix defenseman] David Tanabe was boxing out in front of the net. It went off of his chest and beat me high glove. It was one of those."

Boucher didn't earn another shutout that season. He had five more in his NHL career, which ended after the 2012-13 season.

He does have two modern-day records that have stood for 13 years and haven't even been tested. He's beginning to wonder if they ever will be.

"I think today it's a little bit more difficult because the game has opened up," Boucher said. "There is no red line now. When I did it there was a red line. It's a faster game. There's 3-on-3 overtime and, in the 3-on-3, goalies get exposed all the time. It's different."

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